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Whooping Cough Epidemic In Delaware

April 19, 1986 GMT

DOVER, Del. (AP) _ A whooping cough outbreak has reached epidemic proportions in an Amish community and six religious schools have been closed, health officials said Friday.

Three cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have been confirmed since March 8 and there are 57 probable cases, said Joseph H. Richman, the Kent County health officer. The cases involve children ages 2 to 9, as well as a woman in her 20s, he said.

The highly contagious disease is confined to the Amish community in a rural area of Kent County, west of Dover, he said. More than 200 Amish families live in the area, and the average family has from eight to 10 children.


Two children have been hospitalized, Richman said, adding that one also has pneumonia.

The Amish, whose religion and culture shuns modern technology, traditionally do not have their children immunized. Delaware public schools require immunizations for various diseases, but immunizations are not required in Amish schools.

Richman recommended the six Amish schools be closed and the Amish school board complied three weeks ago.

Kentucky health officials have been notified because some adults, whose children have the disease, recently attended a wedding in that state, Richman said.

Delaware had two reported cases of whooping cough in 1984 and two in 1985.

The disease begins with a bad cold and upper respiratory problems that develop into a cough and a fever.